MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED) - Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s flight to the Vatican was delayed for about 15 minutes when immigration authorities at the departure area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 barred Mrs. Elenita Binay from leaving the country.
In a statement, the Office of the Vice President said the Sandiganbayan issued the go-signal this morning. Bureau of Immigration officials received the travel clearance already late in the day.
Mrs. Binay had to seek a request for travel due to a pending case before the anti-graft court.
The vice-president was visibly irked as he skipped the waiting media at the departure lounge to talk to immigration inspectors.
Accompanied by his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, Binay approached airport Senior Assistant General Manager Vicente Guerzon and asked: “Halika, samahan mo ako. Pakiusapan natin yung inspector.”
Binay explained to immigration officers that his entourage is the official delegation tasked by President Aquino to represent the Philippines in the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis.
The immigration officer, however, insisted they cannot bypass the electronic record appearing in the hold departure list of immigration. The vice-president was also briefed that only Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David has the authority to bypass the electronic record of the hold-departure list.
Binay contacted David who, in turn, said only Justice Secretary Leila de Lima can clear any passenger with an existing HDO.
Ground personnel of Emirates Airlines tried to offload Binay and his entourage but the Makati Mayor insisted that they will push through with the flight. As a result, Emirates Flight EK337 was delayed for 13 minutes as the vice-president contacted the justice secretary about the problem with his wife’s HDO.
In the end, de Lima made a verbal instruction to immigration officers to allow Mrs. Binay to board the flight. Story by Raoul Esperas